‘This is not just alcohol’ – M&S says it doesn’t sell the booze that attracts alcoholics amid Archway store licence row

An artist's impression of how the re-clad hill House would look

An artist's impression of how the re-clad hill House would look - Credit: Archant

Marks and Spencer’s bid to sell alcohol every day from 8am at a new Archway store has angered police and Islington Council due to the high number of street drinkers in the area – but the shop says it doesn’t stock the kind of booze that attracts alcoholics.

A view of Hill House from Junction Road. Picture: Google Maps

A view of Hill House from Junction Road. Picture: Google Maps - Credit: Archant

Licensing officers from the Met and the town hall have opposed the application ahead of the new store opening at the bottom of the redeveloped Hill House tower block, as have health chief Cllr Janet Burgess and her fellow Junction ward member Cllr Kaya comer-Schwartz.

The council’s licensing policy has framework hours of 9am to 11pm for sales of alcohol but M&S has insisted to police that its earlier hours won’t cause problems. It also wants to start selling booze at 7am in November and December.

Pc Petros Loizou from Islington police’s licensing unit said in a report: “The rationale put forward was that they found very little evidence to suggest selling alcohol one hour earlier would have a negative impact.

“The applicant mentions the store does not stock the products that would attract the type of people who are alcohol dependant.

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“The given rationale does not justify a deviation from the framework hours.”

Pc Loizou added: “The location in question is a busy area with an ongoing issue with street drinking and associated crime and anti-social behaviour.

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“Within the area located is the Whittington Hospital and Highgate Hill Mental health hospital. Considerations should be given to adults who suffer from alcoholism who attend treatment centres nearby. The framework hours have been implemented to attempt to combat alcohol related issues by limiting the availability of it.

“It is simply not enough to suggest selling alcohol at high premium would deter the type of people that are alcohol dependant.”

Cllr Comer-Schwartz also pointed to the high number of vulnerable people in the area due to hostels and the Whittington and said the area was “saturated with licensed premises”.

And Cllr Burgess said: “Archway is one of the crime hotspots in the area.”

She added: “It is widely recognised that as the density of licensed premises increases, so does the number of alcohol related ambulance call outs and incidents of alcohol related crime and disorder.”

Hill House, next to the Tube station, has been converted from an office block into 150 flats, ranging from £500,000 for a studio and £725,000 for a two-bed. Not one of them is affordable.

A decision will be made on the alcohol licence at a town hall hearing a week on Tuesday.

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